The Stranger

A weekly poem, read by the author.
July 12 2000 3:00 AM

The Stranger

House quieter this morning, although I know

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You're here.
                    Somewhere the river. Somewhere
You listening for currents, dark ghost

Swirling in the eel grass, taking shape. Then
Footsteps, a memory—ice breaking

In shallows, rivulets, still cold. Somewhere

—When was it?—we lived beside a river.
Water swift, too high, so the bank seemed

Dangerous, no edge or lip—
Listen to the river.
                            I know it's distant now,
The sound of a body splashing there

Alone, waiting. Who was it? Did we know?

Our eyes are cluttered, a lifetime's flotsam
Hoarded in a house we'll never leave.
                                                         Outside

The water is frozen but the ground is soft.
Pull me down as if I were—I am—

The stranger trembling in the weeds.

 

 

 

James Longenbach's most recent collection of poems is The Iron Key. Graywolf will publish a new prose book, The Virtues of Poetry, next year.

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